Inspectors Criticise Private Jail

Parc Prison failed to meet latest inspection tests but is working on its problems, according to a report into the privately-run jail in Bridgend. In the last four years, there have been three changes in management at Parc – a fact that the Prison Reform Trust blames for Parc’s failings. Despite the findings, prison inspectors said the jail was in recovery.

The prison, run by Securicor, provides over 1,000 places for adults, young offenders and non-convicted juveniles. It failed to meet tests on a number of issues including safety and prisoner work activity.

Juliet Lyon from Prison Reform Trust said: “Inconsistent leadership, as the prison has got through three directors since the last inspection, seems to be the main reason for Parc’s slide downhill.”

Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers said although there were a number of concerning elements found at Parc, she recognised moves were being made to address the problems.

  • Among some of the concerns raised were: Lack of engagement between officers and prisoners
  • No action plan to deal with a critical report from a Racial Equality investigation
  • Little work skills training on offer to prisoners despite many being allowed out of their cells for 11 hours a day
  • The lack of a visitors’ centre
  • Lack of activities for young adult prisoners (18-21)
  • Management and support gaps for prisoners at risk of self-harm or suicide
  • Education provision in the juvenile unit was inadequate

However, she said inspectors found Parc staff used relatively low levels of force and segregation. Inspectors were pleased to find real progress in resettlement of offenders. The report also found the juvenile unit was well run and focused on the needs of young people.

“Though this was a disappointing inspection, we were clear that the prison was moving forward under a new director,” said Ms Owers.

“The pockets of good practice show what can be achieved, given motivation, leadership and resources. But it is of some concern that Securicor, who managed the prison, and the Office for Contracted Prisons, had not taken decisive action earlier to halt and reverse the drift downwards. Parc can be a significant resource for Wales, but its role needs to be clarified, and its contract examined to ensure that it provides the right incentives and sufficient resources for that role.”

She urged the new Director of Offender Management for Wales to urgently oversee that task.

Sian West, acting Director of Offender Management for Wales, responded: “I am satisfied that the report is a fair and accurate reflection of Parc Prison at the time the inspection took place. “

Jerry Knight, Custody and Rehabilitation Director for Group 4 Securicor Justice Services, said: “We have taken various steps to action the recommendations in the report to ensure that the continued improvement of HMP & YOI Parc is sustained.

“The report acknowledges that solid foundations are in place at Parc to sustain performance improvements in the future.”